001 · Selling Ice Cream in a Little Piece of Paradise

Selling ice cream in an exotic country is a good idea for those who want to move to a sunny place. Some have already done it successfully. The idea may seem banal at first, but by thinking about it we realize that in fact, well no! I remember reading an article in the French press a few years ago when Bernard, who had settled in Indonesia, explained how he managed to make up to $20,000/month during the high tourist season.

Why choose to sell ice cream?

Selling ice cream has a number of attractive advantages, especially if you’re doing it in an exotic, touristy country. Firstly, ice cream is a very popular product, particularly in summer and in tropical tourist areas. Secondly, the initial investment is relatively low, as I explain in the next chapter. It’s also a very flexible idea, as you can opt for a fixed store, a mobile kiosk or a truck, and adapt according to the seasons and how busy the area is.

What’s more, this sector gives you a great deal of creative freedom. You can experiment with new, exotic flavors, offer vegan or lactose-free options, create original presentations to attract customers, etc. Selling ice cream is not just a lucrative business, it’s also a source of pleasure, both for you and for your customers, creating a positive atmosphere around your business. And let’s not forget the opportunity to live in heavenly places too. In short, it’s an entrepreneurial adventure worth considering.

Alright, but how much does it cost?

The initial investment is mainly in the purchase of two or three ice-cream makers and a freezer, as well as in the rental (or construction) of a strategically located commercial space (a hut on the beach, kiosk near a resort or tourist area, commercial ground floor with tasting room…).

On the other hand, the price of the necessary raw materials (fruits, sugar, milk…) is rather low if bought at the local market or better, directly at a local producer. In addition, employing staff on site costs almost nothing. In Bernard’s case, it cost him $100/month per employee, but this will depend on the country you’re in. Make sure you pay the people you work with well, and avoid any neo-colonialist behavior.

Another option would be to buy a second-hand truck and set it up yourself. This solution is probably more expensive, but will give you the big advantage of being mobile and being able to move around where people are. Alternatively, the most economical solution is to walk the beach, equipped with a cooler, and serve every customer who calls you by raising their arm.

Vendre des glaces sur la plage Truck set up to sell ice cream and beverages. Image : source

The key to success

Some nice pictures, offering exclusive flavors, even unknown flavors (make sure they are tasty and edible though), an original presentation style, and you’ve got a business that can earn enough to live comfortably in a little slice of heaven. The important thing here is to find the strategic place: fairly busy with tourists, but not too close to other ice cream vendors.

How to choose the right location?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a good location for your ice cream store. To begin with, look for areas with a high tourist density, where the flow of potential customers is high. Locations such as beaches, resorts, shopping malls or busy city centers are generally preferable. Be careful, however, not to be too close to direct competition.

Assess local climatic conditions too, as high temperatures are good for ice cream sales. For example, Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia, is not the best place to sell ice cream. Keep these factors in mind, as a strategic, accessible and visible location can greatly influence the success of your business.

The important thing here is to find the strategic place: fairly busy with tourists, but not too close to other ice cream vendors.

Near you?

Of course, everything I say here depends on where on earth you plan to start this idea. If you do not live in an exotic place where raw materials and staff are cheap, know that it can work equally well in Times Square, Shibuya, or Piccadilly Circus. Of course, the cost of the investment will no longer be the same (customers and income will also vary). It’s up to you to study the feasibility of the project depending on where you want to develop it.

An ice cream vendor next to a beach. Selling ice cream 🍧🍨🍦 right next to a sunny, year-round beach is the best place to guarantee success. Photo: Ferran Feixas

Beware of health hazards

Selling ice cream in a heavenly location may be a dream business, but it’s crucial to remain vigilant about the various health risks involved. Here are a few important points to bear in mind to ensure the safety of your products, and therefore of your customers.

  • Water quality: Use only potable water for ice cream preparation. In some tropical countries, tap water may not be sufficiently clean for consumption, so it’s best to use bottled or filtered water.
  • Contaminated ingredients: Make sure fruit and other ingredients are washed thoroughly and come from reliable sources. Buying from trusted local producers can reduce the risk of contamination by bacteria and other parasites.
  • Premises hygiene: Regularly clean all surfaces, equipment and utensils to prevent the spread of bacteria. Maintaining high standards of cleanliness in your workspace is a key factor in attracting customers. This is also, and especially, true of toilets (and watch out for odors)!
  • Equipment maintenance: Check and maintain ice cream makers, freezers and other equipment regularly to avoid breakdowns and ensure good hygiene. Lack of maintenance can lead to malfunctions and health risks.
  • Insect prevention: Tropical countries are great, but they’re infested with little critters that get in everywhere. Install insect protection devices, such as mosquito nets and traps, to prevent flies, mosquitoes and other flying or crawling animals from contaminating products.
  • Storage of raw materials: Keep raw materials at appropriate temperatures to prevent bacterial growth. Fruit, milk and other perishable ingredients must be properly refrigerated. This is especially important in countries where it’s hot all year round. Use thermometers to monitor temperatures in freezers and refrigerated display cabinets, ensuring that ice cream is always kept at safe temperatures.
  • Food handling: Train staff in good food handling practices, including wearing clean gloves and clothing, to minimize the risk of contamination.
  • Waste management: Establish an effective waste management system to avoid the build-up of garbage that could attract the bugs I mentioned earlier.
  • Allergy alert: Clearly inform customers of potential allergens present in your ice creams. Display ingredient information and allergy risks prominently.

Marketing strategies to attract customers

To attract customers to your ice cream store, you’ll need to be both effective and creative in your marketing strategy. First of all, use social networks to promote your business. Regularly post enticing photos of your ice creams, special offers and any events you’re organizing.

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are ideal for reaching a wide audience and creating a community of fans around your business. You can also work with local hotels, tourism agencies and restaurants to propose partnerships. Local events and festivals are also great ways of introducing your products to potential new customers, and boosting your sales. And here again, you don’t need to invest a lot, as a three-wheels vending cycle or even a simple converted cart is all you need.

Attracting attention with attractive, highly visible signage is another simple and effective way of attracting passers-by. Use bright colors and irresistible images to make your store as visible as the nose on a face. Also consider local advertising, such as ads in tourist magazines or flyers distributed in the surrounding area. Organize special events, such as mini-concerts, theme days, contests, etc., also helps build commitment and customer loyalty.

Finally, offer promotions, such as family discounts or loyalty cards, to encourage customers to return regularly. It’s by combining different strategies that you’ll increase your company’s visibility, attract a varied and loyal clientele, and make your business prosper.

Tips and tricks

Let’s end this article with a few tips that should help you increase your chances of success, but also guarantee your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Use local ingredients: Collaborate with local producers to obtain fresh fruit and other high-quality ingredients. This can also strengthen your link with the local community and attract customers who prefer local produce.
  • Train staff: Take the time to train your staff not only to prepare ice cream, but also to welcome customers and deal with stressful situations that may arise during busy periods.
  • Diversify your offer: Offer options for different diets, such as lactose-free, vegan or low-sugar ice creams. This will attract a wider and more numerous clientele. This is especially true if your clientele is made up of Western tourists, whose purchasing power is often quite high.
  • Listen to customer feedback: Encourage your customers to give their opinions and leave suggestions. Use this feedback to improve your offer and show your customers that their opinion matters to you.
  • Offer unique experiences: Create events around ice cream, such as ice cream-making workshops for children or ice cream-tasting evenings for adults, to create a strong bond with tourists, but also with the local community.
  • Adapt opening hours: Study the flow of potential customers and adapt your opening hours accordingly. For example, stay open later in the evening during the summer or at weekends.
  • Seasonality and novelties: Introduce seasonal flavors and limited editions to maintain the interest of regular customers and arouse the curiosity of new consumers who are always ready to try something new.
  • Cross-selling: Offer complementary products, such as cold drinks, pastries or snacks, to increase each customer’s shopping basket.
  • Online presence: Create a small website containing important and useful information about your business. Include information on your products, your location, your opening hours, as well as a few photos that make people want to go there.
  • Maintain impeccable cleanliness: Make sure your store or kiosk is always perfectly clean and tidy, because good hygiene inspires confidence and attracts more customers.

Conclusion

Selling ice cream in a little piece of paradise is an entrepreneurial adventure with high profit potential, but also a very rewarding experience. In this article, we’ve explored the many reasons why this business is both interesting and promising: from relatively low start-up costs to flexible locations and creative opportunities to attract and retain customers.

Choosing the right location, optimizing production and using local ingredients are also crucial to the success of this business. You’ll also need to take care to diversify your offering, train staff appropriately and adopt effective marketing strategies to ensure the success of your business.

If you dream of living in an exotic, sunny country all year round, while generating a sufficiently stable income, this idea of selling ice cream in an exotic country is certainly an option to be seriously considered. What do you think? Is it feasible for you? What makes you hesitate to start this business? Tell me all about it in the comments.

EcoTips

Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.

These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.

Selling ice on the other side of the planet doesn’t represent an absolute environmental catastrophe, but it does have a few negative consequences, which I’d like to explore briefly here, along with solutions for mitigating these effects.

  • Find freezers with the lowest possible energy consumption and opt for green energy (wind power, solar panels…) if possible. Freezers run continuously, so this will also save you money.
  • Buy organic fruit and other raw materials to limit the damage caused by herbicides and pesticides that poison nature. You can even turn this to your advantage by showing your concern for the environment. This would also justify the fact that they may be a little more expensive than elsewhere.
  • Unless you already live there or are a great sportsman, it will be difficult for you to get to Indonesia (or any faraway paradise) by bike. For your air travel, you could offset your carbon emissions by making a donation on a platform such as carbonfund.org, purprojet.com or goodplanet.org who, for example, replant trees in deforested areas or assist populations concerned about reducing their negative impact on their environment.
  • Labor can sometimes be very cheap in some tropical countries, but avoid exploiting your employees. Pay them fairly and equitably and they will be more motivated to ensure the success of the business.
  • Finally, use eco-friendly packaging and offer incentives for customers who bring their own containers. This can attract environmentally conscious customers.

Pros

  • Relatively low investment and risk (unless opening in the North Pole).
  • Allow to live in heavenly places (if it is not already the case)
  • Selling ice cream means offering moments of pleasure, which creates a positive atmosphere.
  • You can eat free ice cream all day long!

Cons

  • Beware of food poisoning. Always use clean water and healthy fruits.
  • Ensuring a constant supply of fresh ingredients can sometimes be complicated, especially in tropical and unstable regions.
  • Inconsistent income (it works better during the summer or tourist season)
Disclaimer, please read this

Legal and administrative aspects of the ideas you'll find on Sweekr are rarely discussed because they vary greatly depending on the country you live in. I would advise you to check with your local adminitration before starting any business. Keep in mind that if you make money, the state will ask for "its share" in order to guarantee the proper functioning of schools, hospitals and other public services. Therefore, you will probably have to acquire a micro-entrepreneur status, or any other similar.

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